The Washington Post

Defending the napping Census workers

I take napping seriously. Ask my wife. I’ve found that a good power nap late in the day has better restorative powers than gulping a Red Bull.

U.S. Census Bureau headquarters

And so I rise now to defend the napping Census workers in Rosenwald comma Maryland. My colleague Ed O’Keefe reports that U.S. Census Bureau officials have come down hard on them for napping in public areas.

“Sleeping on the premises is not acceptable behavior,” Ted A. Johnson, the bureau’s acting human resources director, said in a memo to workers. “It is manifestly unprofessional and creates an impression of carelessness, which unfairly impugns the hard work of the entire Census community.”

I say: People, wake up!

Studies have shown, again and again, that napping a little bit on the job is good for the employee — and employer. I actually called a napping expert for proof. (A napping expert!) Her name is Sara Mednick. She’s a professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Diego and the author of “Take a Nap! Change your life.”

“If you take a nap, we’ve shown you can maintain your optimal level of performance or actually improve your performance in memory, creativity, basic alertness,” Mednick told me. “There’s a pretty wide range of benefits.”

The problem is that there is a stigma against napping. It’s seen as lazy. Work nappers are weak. That saddens nap proponents.

“People are sleep deprived in our society,” Mednick said. “People enter work every day at a sleep loss. That people shouldn’t be trying to find a way to make up for sleep is an unfortunate idea.”

Some employers are more evolved on this topic. Here and there, nap rooms are popping up at the office at big name companies -- Nike, Google, etc. Cisco’s nap room has a Facebook page.

So is it time for the Census Bureau to get a nap room? Does your company have a nap room? Weigh in below. I’ll check the comments after my nap.

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.

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